By Mark Etheridge
Our two Olympic BMX hopefuls, Sifiso Nhlapo and Teagan O’Keeffe, face their D-Day at World Championships in Birmingham, England on Saturday.
Saturday is make or break for the two of them although in all honesty O’Keeffe would probably have only expected to be in with a real shot at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, four years from now.
Details have been sketchy from the champs but Nhlapo, overcoming big odds after a knee operation a few months back, looked to have just scraped through the time trial qualification rounds, ending in the high 50’s as the top 64 go through to the competition proper.
O’Keeffe though is safely through her time trial and qualified in 26th out of 55 elite women.
All indications are that Nhlapo simply has to make at least the quarter-finals to grab a spot on Team SA for the Olympics while O’Keeffe must make the semi-finals (top 16).
The KwaZulu-Natal teenager makes the expression of “Tom-Boy” seem positively mild and she was very much in the wars again this week after crashing badly over the first jump during Thursday’s practice.
Said her mom, Dawn who is in Birmingham with her: “She injured her shoulder and had a huge gash in her knee. The poor girl is pretty much done with mini-skirts I think,” she said of her daughter’s injuries.
“She got back on the bike and did a few more laps but the gash was huge. She thought it was funny but refused to go for stichest until after racing as she said it would make the knee too tight for peddling!’
But common sense prevailed and the coach took her to the French team’s doctor across town and she had stitches inserted, without anaesthetic ÔÇô “she’s one tough cookie that, they just laughed and videotaped the whole thing. Her leg was a bit stiff the next morning but she went to practice and although the knee was a bit sore out of the gate she put in a good lap for the time trial and qualified.”